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Actus Reus

Actus Reus

Begin learning about the fundamental elements of criminal liability with this discussion of actus reus (i.e., the act element of any crime).


Welcome to our look at the fundamental elements of criminal liability. These are foundational requirements that apply to all crimes—or virtually all crimes, as we'll see.

First, though, a quick word about the bases of criminal law. Historically, our system of criminal law was developed through the so-called common law, which was primarily judge-made law and judicial interpretations.

Today, in order for something to be a crime, there must be a statutory prohibition against it. That said,...